UK Makes ‘Urgent’ Live Air Training Call

BAE Hawk
Credit: Tim Felce

LONDON–The UK defense ministry has put out an urgent call to industry for an adversary air service to support the Royal Air Force’s air combat aircraft. 

Procurement officials want to bring the £100 million ($136.5 million) Medium-to-Fast Speed Operational Readiness Training aerial support service into operation as early as next summer. 

The decision comes after the defense ministry announced it would accelerate the retirement of the BAE Systems Hawk T1 jet trainer aircraft operated by the RAF and the Royal Navy in the red-air aggressor and naval threat simulation role.  

Retirement of the aircraft was sped up as part of the government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy that called for the type to be retired from the mission at the end of March 2022. 

The defense ministry wants the service to provide an estimated 2,400 flying hours per year, with 12 sorties daily in a 15-hr. flying window. Missions will require up to four aircraft at a time.  

The aircraft also need to be based within a 30-min. transit time to training airspace over the North Sea. 

Tender documents describe the project as an “urgent requirement” utilizing a competitive procedure but with “accelerated timescales.” 

Officials call for the service provider to have UK Civil Aviation Authority or Military Aviation Authority accreditation for the proposed aircraft and activities. 

The ministry of defense had hoped to fulfill the adversary air training mission through its planned Air Support to Defense Operational Training (ASDOT). It would have provided red-air aggressor, electronic warfare and forward air controller (FAC) training for the Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Navy (RN) and British Army through contracts worth around £1.2 billion over 15 years. But the project was shelved after tendered bids exceeded program estimates.

Some bidders had previously described ASDOT’s aspirations as ambitious for the budgets allocated.